I’m getting a LOT more reading done lately, because I’m now working part-time for Instacart about 20 hours a week and it’s a job that comes with a ton of downtime. Seriously, if you want to be paid to sit and read for 5 hours you should apply to become an in-store shopper. Maybe my area of the country is just slow, but I’m over here reading and my coworkers are knitting and watching Netflix on the clock. Anyhow, more reading means more DNFing; here are my DNFs for January.
1 Red Queen
I’ve heard a lot of negative stuff about this book, but all the negative reviews just made me want to read it more! A love rectangle, you say? Well, I adore a love triangle, so that oughta work for me. Lazy worldbuiding? I hate intricate worldbuilding. Slap a premise on it and call it a done deal. She spends half the book trying on pretty dresses? I’m not fronting. I like pretty dresses.
I was reasonably sure that I’d end up being one of the only people on booktube who actually likes this book. Alas, that was not the case.
What went wrong? Well, nothing major. It was really just a lot of little things. I only made it 50 pages in before I called it quits.
The main character wasn’t somebody I could connect to. I don’t know why, but I just didn’t care about her.
Then there was the tone and general feel of the book. It just felt VERY cliche-YA and I’m not really a YA reader, so it wasn’t my jam. I’ll read a YA every once in awhile if the premise is neat, but if the book isn’t unique or different, then it doesn’t make that cut. The writing style reminded me of The Hunger Games, but I hated The Hunger Games. Reading it annoyed me and I didn’t feel like anything new or interesting was coming. It felt like something I’d read many times before.
And wow, when people say the worldbuilding is lazy that’s an understatement. In one scene we’re hearing about ornate silk dresses and in the next we’re being told the family is out of batteries. What time period is this supposed to be? The clothing style sounds older, but the technology is 20th century. It’s not that this mishmash of time periods couldn’t be pulled off; it’s just that Aveyard didn’t pull it off. Instead of being interesting, it was just confusing. I didn’t feel grounded in the world at all. If a writer is going to create a brand new world, they have to make me believe it. Then it HAS to be detailed and intricate. Otherwise just create a stock medieval-European Tolkien/D&D-esque fantasy world. That style of worldbuilding gets a lot of hate, but I like it. I know what to expect.
Sometimes intricate and unique worldbuilding can be neat. Gideon the Ninth has such cool worldbuilding with necromancy and skeletons in space. Now this….it isn’t Gideon the Ninth, and Aveyard should have used a stock dystopian or stock fantasy world, but the world she created left me grappling, trying to figure out what the heck the world even WAS. Is it modern? Medieval? Is it dystopian? It had elements of a fallen modern civilization, but then how does the magic fit into that?
I did not understand what I was reading at all. So I gave up.
So disappointing. That cover is so damn gorgeous.
2 A Wind in the Door
One of my goals for 2020 was to read the entire Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. After reading ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ for the first time (somehow never got into it as a kid) and loving it, I was excited to dig into the remainder of this beloved series.
Yeah…no. I’m over that goal. I’m swapping this series out for the seven Anne of Green Gables books.
Book 2 of the Time Quintet was freaking painful. I listened to it on audiobook while driving and on my lunchbreak at work. While ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ was fun to listen to every day at lunch and on my commute home, I found myself starting to groan at the thought of slogging through another scene of ‘A Wind in the Door.’ That’s when I decided not to finish. I only had three chapters left, but I really didn’t care what happened to any of them.
Not after scene after scene AFTER SCENE of “Progo, I can’t!” “Yes, you can Meg. You need to do [such and such] and [insert ham-fisted message].”
My goodness it was boring. There was almost no action. It was all dialogue between Progo and Meg and him telling her to kithe to different characters. Kithe to Calvin and kithe to Mr.Jenkins.
This book was such a chore. I don’t know how the author didn’t bore herself to death writing it.
3 To Serve and Submit
This is a poorly-written wannabe novel masquerading as erotica. Let’s not be slick. Look at that cover. Y’all know why I picked the book up. Then I start reading and this book advertising itself as smut is….an actual story.
Maybe I could forgive that if it was a good story. But it is not. All the fun sexy BDSM stuff is glossed over with almost no detail. The rape scene, however, that was super graphic.
I didn’t pick this up to read emotional and traumatic rape scenes.
What was the author thinking?
What was the cover artist and marketing team thinking? Why present this as smut when it isn’t?
Even the premise screams smut. The plot: Marja goes off to be trained as a pleasure slave. That sounds pretty smutty to me.
But don’t be fooled. This is just a weird novel that doesn’t know what the hell it wants to be.
4 I Never Called it Rape
I finally made the decision to stop identifying as a feminist a couple of months ago, but I’m still reading feminist literature at about the same rate as ever. I don’t want to go too far in the opposite direction and become too conservative and red-pilled.
But once I realized the data used to measure the wage-gap is dubious, I started questioning a lot of the feminist narrative and it turns out that whole ‘1 in 5’ number thrown around is false too. That data was collected ONLY from college students and they really stretched the definition of rape, counting everything from unwanted kissing to dick pics as rape.
That very study is referenced on nearly every page of this book but with nary a word of the data collection methods. They just spout ‘1 in 5’ without ever telling the readers where they get that number from.
I only read the first few chapters and then I brought it back to the library. I exchanged it for another feminist nonfiction, ‘The Vagina Bible.’ So far, I’m liking it far more than my first choice.
5 Next Level Basic
I’m not a self-help person. I mean, I did used to ghostwrite them. I did that Freelance for a few years. But I don’t read them.
This one just had such a good hook, and when you’ve ghostwritten as many as I have, you know that the hook is everything. By definition, self-help books don’t really have any substantial content. There may be a few gems of good advice here and there. There’s rarely enough to make a whole book. So most of it is usually fluff and filler. Words that mean nothing and have been said thousands of times before: Be positive! Be grateful! Find joy! Barf….But no hate to any past clients. Finding new ways to package the same old advice is (for whatever reason) a cash cow. Keep hustling.
Anyhow, that ‘basic bitch’ thing is one of the best self-help hooks I’ve ever seen. If only it had been executed well.
Stassi just repeated herself. A LOT. And while there usually isn’t a lot of tangible advice in self-help books, there’s usually some. The only advice in here was: ‘Like what you like! Be true to yourself!’ over and over….and over again.
But I was at least enjoying the anecdotes. Stassi seemed like a weird and interesting person. She kept mentioning some reality show I’d never heard of, that she starred on, and since she made the choice to make her reality stardom such a central part of the book, naturally I decided to check it out.
And I freaking hated her. Stassi is a horrible bully. She actually brags about bullying female coworkers until they quit. And she’s psychopathic in her relationship. She fringes on abusive.
Hey, maybe none of that is real, but it’s marketed as reality, and she decided to keep mentioning Vanderpump Rules in the book. Her character in the reality show was what ultimately made me decide to put the book down. She wrote a book under the brand of that same character and basically encouraged readers to go check out the show. I did. I hated it. I hated her. I returned the book to the library.
6 Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
I loved Cosmos. My husband and I used to watch it every single night before bed. Maybe that’s why Tyson’s voice kept putting me to sleep. I tried out the audiobook one afternoon after work. I was actually nodding off in my chair.
The topic is interesting to me, but I think Tyson’s voice is just too damn soothing. I might try this book again in the future, but with a physical copy. Or I might just stick with Cosmos.
The parts of this book I did listen to were a lot more in-depth than I really wanted to get. I’m not so much into particle physics. I just want to hear about black holes and pulsars and other neat, flashy stuff like that.
7 The Christmas Sisters
Why do I keep trying to like cozy books? It never works out for me. I never enjoy cozy books, and yet I keep trying to like them.
There was nothing wrong with this book. It just didn’t have enough going on in the plot to keep me interested. I have a feeling I would have liked it more if it was only in one of the sisters’ POVs. All of their POVs mixed together just made the book very slow-paced.
That’s it! I DNF’d 7 books in January. What about you? How many did you give up on in January? Tell me in the comments below! 🙂